In the Marriage of Todd (No. 2)

Mr. Todd and Mrs. Todd were married in 1960 and had two children. On 23 November 1974, Mrs. Todd left the matrimonial home with the two children, but all three moved back in on 21 April 1975, where they continued to reside until the parents decided to divorce in 1976. The application for divorce under the Family Law Act 1975 (Cth) (the “Act”) initiated in the Family Law Division of the Supreme Court of New South Wales was transferred to the Family Court of Australia. On the question of divorce, one key issue was what constituted “separation” and “separated and apart” for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. The court held that this marriage had irretrievably broken down since 23 November 1974, and a continuous separation for 12 months the application for divorce had been satisfied. The Court held that “separation” was broader than mere physical separation and concerned the martial relationship itself. According to the Court, “Separation can only occur in the sense used by the Act where one or both of the spouses form the intention to sever or not to resume the marital relationship and act on that intention, or alternatively act as if the marital relationship has been severed.” In this case, the Court held although the spouses moved back in together in April 1975, they never restored the marital relationship.



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